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Testing Natural Easy Care fabrics

Natural Easy Care (NEC) fabrics are designed to retain all their aesthetic and functional properties after machine washing and tumble drying. Performance testing provides assurance they are fit for this purpose.

NEC fabrics, developed at AgResearch in Christchurch for Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. (AWI), are tested using the Woolmark Company test specifications. The Woolmark is an internationally recognised brand that gives consumers a guarantee of quality.

Testing NEC fabric properties

Traditional wool fabrics are likely to shrink, mat and pill when they are machine washed and show signs of fibre breakage with wear over time. NEC fabrics are designed to be more durable and easy care, so scientists use standard tests to ensure they meet the performance standards specified for these fabrics. The main properties they test are machine washability, shrinkage, abrasion and pilling resistance, stretch and recovery, and tensile and tear strength.

Fabric testing a stage-by-stage process

Testing is fundamental to the research, and researchers test NEC fabrics at many stages throughout their development, not just in their finished state.

From early in the development, researchers trial many different parameters. Each time something is changed, they carry out testing and analyse the results to decide how they will refine and improve the fabrics.

Testing of the finished fabric is also carried out at a number of stages:

  • Prototype fabrics: Smaller quantities of fabric are produced first until the required performance properties are met.
  • Pilot plant trials:When they are ready to trial a larger production run, they do this in the AgResearch Pilot Plant, and the fabric is tested again.
  • Mill trials: When the technology is transferred to a company for commercial production, the final fabric produced is also tested. Sometimes processing adjustments are necessary to ensure the fabric meets the specifications.
  • Final fabrics: Ongoing testing of final fabric is carried out as required.

Get information sheet: Developing Natural Easy Care fabrics

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